The Chicago Bulls have been eliminated from the 2014 postseason after losing their first round series in five games to the Washington Wizards. The Bulls had a great season again this year, recording a 48-34 record without their star player Derrick Rose for the second consecutive season. The Bulls now enter the offseason with numerous question marks surrounding their organization as they try and take the necessary steps to build a championship-caliber team.
The Chicago Bulls will reflect on the 2013-14 season and see that despite a first round elimination, the team had a very successful season. They have put themselves in a great position to improve their roster in the offseason by trading Luol Deng earlier in the season to free up cap space. They notched 48 wins with D.J. Augustin as their leading scorer and saw Joakim Noah take the next step towards being one of the best all-around big men in the league. Tom Thibodeau gets the best out of his team every game as the Bulls ranked No. 1 in points allowed and in the top five in almost every defensive category in the NBA.
However, looking forward to next season the Bulls must focus on one thing and one thing only, signing players who can help this team score points.
The Bulls were ranked last in points per game this season as well as last season. They have averaged just over 93 points per game the past two years. Now I understand they didn’t have Derrick Rose, but the year before that, the Bulls only averaged 96 points per game, still ranking in the bottom half of the league. The Wizards young squad exposed the Bulls and Chicago was unable to consistently score points to keep up with Washington.
This offseason will be an important one for the franchise moving forward. They have a tough decision to make with power forward Carlos Boozer as they will look to find a suitable trading partner to receive something for the 2–time All-Star.
Boozer has struggled the last two seasons for the Bulls. Last year he averaged 16.5 points per game but shot just 47 percent from the field, a career-low until this season. This year, Boozer averaged 13.7 points per game, the second-lowest of his career besides his rookie season. His field goal percentage was just over 45 percent while playing 28 minutes a night, his lowest in his four years with the Bulls. Boozer had his worst season since his rookie year so finding a trading partner won’t be that easy. If Chicago cannot find someone willing to take Boozer the team will be forced to amnesty him in order to save $16.8 million, which will be needed to sign some free agents.
Boozer most likely played his last game in a Chicago uniform on Tuesday night and the Bulls will look to find players to replace him in free agency. Obviously, the Carmelo Anthony rumors have existed since he announced he would test free agency before the season began, but the Bulls will need to make some moves in order to sign him. Chicago would have to trade Taj Gibson, who is a key part of their defense and is a great rebounder on both ends of the floor. The Bulls will also have to trade their 2011 draft choice Nikola Mirotic from Real Madrid. Mirotic is a 6-10 forward who can score from anywhere on the floor. He has a ton of upside but isn’t planning to play for the Bulls until the 2015 season. Unfortunately, he would most likely have to be moved to acquire Anthony.
Anthony has stated that he is looking for the best opportunity to win a championship and Chicago is closer to winning an NBA title then the New York Knicks are. However, the Knicks will be able to pay Anthony more money than Chicago can offer him.
If the Bulls are able to make a big splash and sign Anthony to go along with Noah, Jimmy Butler and a healthy Derrick Rose, they will have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA. If Anthony opts to stay in New York, the Bulls will need to find scoring elsewhere.
Pau Gasol is a possible fit to replace Boozer as a better offensive player at power forward and can pay Gasol a reasonable price as he is turning 34 this summer. Other possible free agents that the Bulls can look to sign include Zach Randolph, Lance Stephenson, Trevor Ariza, Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and former Bull Luol Deng.
The key focus for the Chicago this offseason is to find players who can score points to go along with a healthy Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. They have two good draft picks this year at No. 16 and No. 19, where they will look for scoring and a young point guard to back up Derrick Rose. Mock drafts have the Bulls taking players such as Tyler Ennis, T.J. Warren, Rodney Hood and Jerami Grant. The Bulls will also most likely not sign back D.J. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich, making point guard a crucial need this offseason.
Joakim Noah is blossoming into an exceptional player and is the heart and soul of the team. He had career-highs in points (12.6 per game), rebounds (11.3 per game) and assists (5.4 per game). He notched his second All-Star selection and is the anchor of the best defense in the league. He won Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career.
However, for the Bulls to be a championship contender, not only does Rose need to stay healthy, but they need another player to be able to create their own shot and score in order to lift some of the burden off their star. If it means adapting their style of play and giving up some players to sign Carmelo Anthony, the risk might be worth taking. The Bulls can then use their draft picks to fill needs and sign some veteran players to lesser contracts. Rose’s injuries will most likely keep him from winning a championship on his own, forcing management to look at other options.
If Chicago wants to win a title in the near future, the organization will have to make a serious move or they will be watching LeBron James and the Miami Heat win the East for the next couple of years.
What should the Bulls do?
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